(INDIANAPOLIS) – Attorney General Curtis Hill has joined attorneys general and governors from 22 other states in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case regarding the rights of law-abiding individuals to carry firearms outside their homes.
In a brief filed this week, the states are asking the nation’s high court to review a recent lower court ruling in Rogers v. Grewal. In that case, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals failed to strike down a New Jersey law that restricts an individual’s right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense unless the person can demonstrate a “justifiable need” to do so.
The Third Circuit ruling conflicts with other federal court decisions in similar cases. In July 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a Hawaii law similar to New Jersey’s, determining that the Second Amendment protects the right to openly bear arms in public for self-defense purposes. In that case, the court stated that “the right to bear arms must guarantee some right to self-defense in public.” In addition, the D.C. Circuit overturned a District of Columbia law that limited the issuance of handgun carry licenses only to individuals who could demonstrate a specific threat or a danger to their lives.
“The Constitution very plainly guarantees that all law-abiding citizens have the right to bear arms,” Attorney General Hill said. “Requiring individuals to prove special circumstances in order to ‘qualify’ for this right completely misconstrues the meaning of the Second Amendment. Under such an interpretation, in fact, carrying firearms becomes a privilege granted to a chosen few rather than a right enjoyed by all free people.”
The case in New Jersey arises from an application filed in 2017 by Thomas R. Rogers for a handgun carry permit. Rogers services ATM machines and carries large amounts of cash as part of his job, often in high-crime areas. Despite passing the required background checks, completing a firearm training course, and meeting all of the other eligibility requirements necessary to obtain a public carry permit, Rogers was denied the exercise of his right to carry because his local police chief decided he did not have a “justifiable need” under New Jersey’s law. Indiana and the other states argue in their brief that New Jersey’s requirements for approving handgun carry permits infringe upon an individual’s ability to lawfully and effectively carry a firearm outside the home. The brief is led by the State of Arizona.
There are 42 states that currently employ objective “shall-issue” firearm permitting standards that include qualifying requirements such as fingerprinting, background checks, review of mental health records, training in the safe operation of firearms, and/or knowledge of laws regarding the use of force. New Jersey, however, employs a “may-issue” standard that allows individuals within the government to subjectively restrict citizens from carrying firearms outside their homes – even if those citizens meet all of the other eligibility requirements of the law.
To see the amicus brief click here.